New Mainers Speak 04/20/2014


New Mainers Speak 04/20/2014


Kate Manahan



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Host Kate Manahan interviews Reza Jalali, Coordinator of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Southern Maine, as well as a teacher, writer, Muslim scholar, and community organizer. He is originally from Iran, and at the time of this interview had lived in Maine for over 20 years. They discuss his childhood in 1960s-era Iran, including the access he had to American movies and TV; his experience growing up in an ethnic minority Kurdish family; his involvement in anti-government politics; his college education in India; and the 1979 Revolution, which prevented him from returning to Iran. Reza also describes his memories of arriving in Maine for the first time; his impressions of the state then and now; and how he came to choose Maine as his destination within the US.

When Reza arrived, he had two degrees from well-regarded, English-language universities in India, but he wasn’t able to find a job; he was told that his transcripts weren’t recognized by American universities and that he would have to start over. He discusses how this continues to be an issue for immigrants and refugees who come to the US with advanced degrees. He went on to receive a graduate degree in creative writing in the US.

They discuss two of Reza’s books: Homesick Mosque, a book of short stories, and Moon Watchers, a children’s book about Ramadan. Reza then reads a selection from Homesick Mosque, from a story about a Pakistani couple in New England after September 11 from 14:30-22:26. Reza then talks about anti-immigrant sentiment in the US, and the nation’s immigrant past and present; he also talks about his favorite writers, including Rumi, Salman Rushdie, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Publication Date



WMPG 90.9 FM


Portland, Maine


WMPG, community radio, college radio, New Mainers Speak, Kate Manahan, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, Portland, New Mainers, Reza Jalali, Coordinator of Multicultural Student Affairs, University of Southern Maine, Muslim, Islam, Iran, American popular culture, Kurds, India, 1979 Iranian Revolution, university, creative writing, Homesick Mosque, Moon Watchers, Ramadan, September 11, anti-immigrant sentiment, Rumi, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri

New Mainers Speak 04/20/2014